Borders are dynamic and interdependent within a rainbow of variables. Though they present and are enforced as objective and unmoving.
It is our values, our collective imagination, our proximity and relationship one with another across time that designs, constructs and maintains our boundaries. Our dexterity in designing them can determine a community’s health.
In spaces across Southwest Detroit, we can see people navigating and negotiating these boundaries — physical and social, inherited and designed — with varying levels of success and comfort. This is true of porches, corners and sidewalks. They hold history and development.
Boundaries are scaffolds.
They underwrite our routines and how we navigate them is critical. Living in Southwest Detroit offers a persistent decision to live within, be limited by, push against, bend, break, mold and shape boundaries.
Space is story.
On porches, in yards and through fences the access is visual, the boundary is sculpture, the currency is social, and the key is consent.
Space is history and imagined futures. An ecosystem within our climate of community. Its boundaries are as much about what we let out as what we let in. It is within these layers of time and origin and orientation that Southwest Detroit’s brand of community is framed. Oh, the boundaries and borders we’ve crossed to be here, together. To be neighbors.
In community we consider our boundaries with our heads and decorate them with our hearts. Sometimes this offers a warm embrace, other times a warning. While design is a language that we don’t all speak, it is often intuitive to read.
Erik Paul Howard is a photographer living in Southwest Detroit, finding his truest self while immersed in discussion, relationship, reading and creating that centers collective imagining of our futures. These days, this is pushed along by the works of Ben Okri, Arlene Goldbard, adrienne maree brown and Michael Karlberg. Reach Erik at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media @erikpaulhoward.